1 WANNABE (Spice Girls)
Still apparantly no stopping them. With no clear challenger for the Number One slot in sight the Spice Girls notch up a fifth week atop the charts to bring them level with Babylon Zoo as the longest-running Number One single of the year. One thing that has hiterto remained unremarked upon is the length of the single. At just over 2 minutes and 40 seconds it is astonishingly brief for a modern day pop record and for a Number One single is rivalled in recent months only by Robson and Jerome's I Believe which clocked in at almost exactly two minutes.
2 WHY (3T featuring Michael Jackson)
Oh dear. How cynical is one allowed to be? Why began life as a song earmarked for Michael Jackson's History album but, as legend would have it, was generously donated by the man himself to his three nephews who were at the time in the process of putting their debut album together. Uncle Mike also lent vocal support to the offsrping of brother Tito and this is the result, an instant superstar supporting role for this third single from the lads. To be fair to them the song would probably have done well ever without the presence of certain famous relatives, Anything having already made Number 2 earlier this year and the followup 24/7 hitting Number 11 back in March. Nonetheless the Jacko factor has almost certainly helped to give the single this dramatic debut. Along with many chart superstars Michael Jackson is something of a serial collaborator although he is far more restrained than people such as Elton John or Diana Ross. As well as solo he has charted in the past with Diana Ross, Paul McCartney, a semi-credited Siedah Garrett and Stevie Wonder.
3 WE'VE GOT IT GOIN' ON (Backstreet Boys)
The gap left by the sudden departure of Take That from the Boy Band market has left a bevy of manufactured teen acts jockeying for position and vying for bedroom wall space. Upside Down, 911, Gemini and Back 2 Back have all made chart appearances in recent months but nobody has come close to matching the apparant dominance of Boyzone. Until now. The Backstreet Boys suddenly emerge as a force to be reckoned with as their second single becomes an instant Top 3 hit, surging past the Number 14 peak of their debut Get Down. The single itself is nothing too remarkeable, a standard piece of Hi-NRG dance-pop following the boy-band formula. Time will tell whether this is just a fluke.
8 SE A VIDE E (THAT'S THE WAY LIFE IS) (Pet Shop Boys)
Who remembers back in 1986 when the Pet Shop Boys' followup to the Number One West End Girls was Love Comes Quickly which could only reach Number 19 and everyone was quickly attaching the One Hit Wonder tag to them? Funny how things can change. Ten years down the line Neil and Chris are still making some of the best records of their career and this new single must surely rank as one of their greatest ever recordings. They have dabbled with a Latin sound before, most notably on Domino Dancing but even that cannot hold a candle to this opus. With the thundering rhythms of a visually striking troupe of Scottish female drummers as a backing, Se A Vide E is one of the most upbeat, joyous, summery singles they have ever recorded. An obvious hit from the very start it storms into the Top Ten hot on the heels of Before back in May. It becomes their 17th Top 10 hit in a career which has seen them miss the Top 20 only once. PS If this doesn't endear me to the mailing list nothing will. [What's a mailing list? Ask your grandparents].
10 BETTER WATCH OUT (Ant & Dec)
Resolution at last for the strange career that has seen Ant and Dec move away from being child actors in the TV series 'Byker Grove' and into presenting their own highly successful TV series. At the same time they have become established as pop stars but have been stuck with the 'PJ and Duncan' tag, the character names from 'Byker Grove' under which they released their first singles as part of the plot of the show. The pair were written out of the series a long time ago and the continuing use of the names was becoming more and more ridiculous. Finally the public has been judged unlikely to be confused by the switch and so I'm Not Your Stepping Stone became in March the final PJ and Duncan single. Into this come the reborn Ant and Dec who instantly break a rather curious jinx and break through into the Top 10 for the second time ever. They first reached the lofty heights of Number 9 with Let's Get Ready To Rhumble almost exactly two years ago and since then have had a string of seven hit singles which have all peaked between 11 and 16. For an act to change its name in the middle of a career is, as you would expect, pretty unusual. The first obvious example of this were the Shadows who started life as The Drifters when backing Cliff Richard in the 1950s. When the rather better-known American band emerged over here they changed their name to the legendary one they have gone under ever since. This transatlantic switch can work both ways. The Motown Spinners were thus called when they hit with 'It's A Shame' in 1970 as there was already a popular British folk band called The Spinners. They then had to became the Detroit Spinners a year or so later after switching record labels. The most recent examples of multiple monikering are messrs Drummond and Cauty who between 1988 had hit singles as The Timelords, The KLF and the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu.
13 LET'S MAKE IT A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (Bryan Adams)
A smash series of concerts, a new album and the man can clearly do no wrong. Stepping aside from the rawer, bluesey sound of much of his new album and the last single The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me, Bryan Adams goes back into smooch mode for this new single. A typical Adams ballad, it is romantic enough to cause a few hearts to flicker and to prompt the discharge of hundreds of cigarette lighters when he uses it to close his current series of concerts. Incidentally, if you were one of the people at last months concert at the McAlpine Stadium in Huddersfield you will have seen me as I was one of the lucky few watching the gig from the onstage gantry just behind the band [Stood next to Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville and David Beckham so rumour has it, but no photographic evidence exists]. You have my full permission to be insanely jealous.
18 YOU'LL BE MINE (PARTY TIME) (Gloria Estefan)
Much as I suspect she would love to be known as a balladeer, Gloria Estefan is at her best when belting out an umtempo dance track. Following the turgidity that was the Olympic theme Reach comes this breezy pop track that makes no pretensions to longevity or seriousness. More like a Miami Sound Machine track of old than anything she has released recently, the song is only let down by a slightly sterile production but as a piece of summertime fun it is welcome enough.
21 IF YOUR GIRL ONLY KNEW (Aaliyah)
Possibly a little too old now to be called a child prodigy, Aaliyah returns to the Top 40 for the first time since September last year and does so with her biggest hit for a long time. After spending the whole of 1995 being unable to break into the Top 30 this new hit falls a place short of the Top 20 to become her second biggest hit to date, only just behind the Number 16 peak of her 1994 debut Back and Forth.
25 ARMS OF LOREN (E'Voke)
The second hit single for E'Voke, following on from last November's Runaway. Just like its predecessor, this new single from the former TV actresses is clearly meant as a high concept track, this time telling the story of an absent lover who is on the run from an unnamed secret organisation. This explains the frantic pace and the 'Mission-Impossible'-styled riff that runs throughout. Where it falls down, and this was the failing of their first single, is that the concept is allowed to get in the way of the song. The two girls have perfect voices for dance records such as this but they are frequently lost in a welter of noise and effects. In short the record is over-produced. Still a wonderful dance track but a wonderful dance track that hides an even better straightforward pop record.
26 WHERE ARE YOU (Kavana)
A second hit single for Kavana, the soul singer being pitched firmly at the teen market as well. Slowly but surely he is making an impact, this new single easing past the Number 35 peak of Crazy Chance back in May.
27 BECOMING MORE LIKE ALFIE (Divine Comedy)
"Everybody Knows That No Means Yes/Just Like Glasses Come Free On The NHS." Yes, Neil Hannon aka the Divine Comedy is back once more with another rather wonderful piece of British snob-rock. Like his last hit Something For The Weekend it is a rather sardonically toned minature masterpiece, this time relating his worries that he is becoming like Michael Caine's character in the famous 1960s film. Utterly wonderful, albeit maybe a little less commercial than its predecessor which reached Number 14 in June.
32 THIS SUMMER (REMIX) (Squeeze)
Slowly but surely Squeeze are on a career roll, their still loyal army of fans hoping fervently that the recent demise of Crowded House will wake people up to the fact that the Difford and Tilbrook pairing has been writing beautifully harmonic ballads and pop songs far longer than the Finn brothers. This Summer is one of their best singles of recent years and was first relased in September last year when it could only reach Number 36. When Heaven Knows became their biggest single for many years back in June it was clearly a signal to try again with this potential smash. Duly re-released with a barely discernable remix the track scrapes a higher chart position but like last time I suspect it suffers from being released too late. A song detailing in glorious detail how wonderful it is to be in love when the sun is shining must surely deserve a release in June or July when the hot weather is just beginning. To release it in the middle of August is to miss the boat almost as much as last years September remix. Meanwhile the wait for their first Top Ten hit since 1987 continues.
35 IN DE GHETTO (David Morales and the Bad Yard Club)
DJ and remixer David Morales makes one of his sporadic chart appearances with this track. The Bad Yard club last made an appearance in July 1993 with Gimmie Luv, yet he has charted since using the pseudonym 'Boss' when Congo made Number 54 in August 1994.
38 SPECIAL KIND OF LOVER (Nu Colours)
Apparantly Stevie Wonder's favourite act, Nu Colours notch up their second hit of 1996, just a few places behind the Number 31 peak of Desire back in May. It is their third Top 40 hit in all, the first being Power which nudged Number 40 when re-promoted back in November 1993.
39 ASCENSION DON'T EVER WONDER (Maxwell)
This should really be subtitled 'Chart Backmarker in Quite Good Record Shock', the debut hit single for Maxwell deserving far far better than to prop up the listing in this way. The track is a wonderfully retro piece of sensual Philadelphia soul, the kind of track that finds its way onto many a late-night soul show on the radio. Complete with a wah-wah guitar solo in the middle it could easily have walked out of a New York Club circa 1978 and for this reason alone I confess I love it to bits. [Still do. File this as a huge lost classic].